A book that offers convincing historical and environmental thinking.

The Nature of Man, Life and Humanity

WHY WE MUST...HOW WE CAN CHANGE THE WAY WE LIVE

A comprehensive survey of human history—which reveals a grave ecological predicament—suggests that reconnection with nature and redirection of technology could create a new, sustainable lifestyle.

“Somewhere along the way we lost sight of what it means to be human,” Stadtmiller (Electronics, 2003, etc.) laments in this book. In the search for an ever more convenient lifestyle, humanity introduced a false dichotomy between technology and nature, according to the author. Life should not be a contest against nature, he contends, but a partnership with it—with technology acting as a force for good rather than an instigator of pollution. As the title suggests, the book comprises three sections. The first is nothing less than a thorough, lucid tour through human history, from the Big Bang through the space race and the ascendancy of computers—quite an achievement in 170 pages. The author zeros in on human evolution: tool use, brain power, hunter-gatherers, and the rise of civilizations and religions. His short synopses of Christianity and Islam are especially helpful. In Part II, he considers the keys to life on Earth—energy, clean air and water, and biodiversity—and how these are changed through human action. For instance, he clearly and forthrightly sets out evidence for climate change in Chapter 10. The final section emphasizes the necessity of getting back to a “Native Earth Society” based on simplicity and respect for nature. His case for cutting consumption is not only environmental, but also monetary. The information about energy ratings and usage is perhaps overly technical for laypeople, but tips for ensuring appliances are as efficient as possible are straightforward. The advice embraces a continuum of radicalism: yes, some may cycle or carpool, the book acknowledges, but those who commute alone by automobile can still be environmentally conscious by checking tire pressure regularly, using cruise control, etc. A pleasant late section of the memoir relates how Stadtmiller’s early nature connection was developed at his grandparents’ Pennsylvania farm. His image of a future society—especially zero population growth—may seem too good to be true, yet he gives achievable steps for working toward one’s ideals.

A book that offers convincing historical and environmental thinking.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 407

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: Sept. 8, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2016

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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